White-Collar Grifters and Prison Abolition

Let’s look at a seeming contradiction. I am — more or less — in favor of prison abolition. (I’ll get to what that means in a moment.)

And I also want big-ticket white-collar criminals to rot in jail.

This seems like a contradiction. I think it’s not.

Here’s the thing. Yes, I support prison abolition and defunding police. But I don’t support doing either of those immediately. I don’t know anyone who does. Defunding police doesn’t mean “immediately abolish all police forces and replace them with nothing.” And prison abolition doesn’t mean “open all the prison gates today and let everyone go.” It’s a process.

Prison abolition is a process. And I don’t want that process to start with rich, white, white-collar grifters. I want it to start with people convicted of drug war crimes and non-violent property crimes. I want it to start with dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline, putting the hammer down on racist police abuses, exploding the drug war into a million pieces. I don’t want it to start with Elizabeth Holmes.

Continue reading “White-Collar Grifters and Prison Abolition”

White-Collar Grifters and Prison Abolition

Pizza Beans, Simplified

(Recipe below the jump.)

I am so excited about Pizza Beans! I just made them for the first time, and now I want them in our freezer always. They’re easy, hearty, delicious, and super-vegetal. They freeze really well. And it’s a very adaptable recipe.

I got the recipe from Smitten Kitchen. But it looked a little more complicated than it needed to be — until I realized that three-quarters of the recipe was “make a tomato sauce with vegetables.” We already have tomato sauce. We always have tomato sauce. Every summer I make and freeze enormous batches of tomato sauce, like Frederick the mouse gathering sun rays for the winter. Any recipe that starts with making a tomato sauce can be immediately short-cut.

So I thought: How can I simplify this?

Here is my simplified version of Pizza Beans. I realize that “simplified” may not mean the same to everyone as it does to me. For me, “simplifying” a recipe means “taking the numbers out and highlighting all the flexible parts that can be easily changed.” If you prefer recipes with numbers and specific ingredients, check out the Smitten Kitchen version — or just Google “pizza beans,” there’s lots of variations.

Continue reading “Pizza Beans, Simplified”

Pizza Beans, Simplified

Would Al Gore Have Won? A Popular Vote Fallacy

Group holding vote signs

I’ll get this out of the way first: The electoral college sucks. It’s grossly undemocratic. It sucks for a jillion reasons, and we should dump it.

And also: When people criticize the electoral college, they often make a large, important mistake.

One of the most common arguments against the electoral college is that the person with the most votes should win. Like, duh. But (the argument goes) several candidates for President have lost their elections — even though they won the popular vote. It happened with Al Gore in 2000, and Hillary Clinton in 2016. And that’s not right. If we’d had a normal, popular vote election, the argument goes, these candidates would have won.

But here’s the problem. If we hadn’t had the electoral college, candidates for President would have campaigned differently — which means the popular vote would have been different.

So we can’t say with any kind of certainty who would have won those elections.

Continue reading “Would Al Gore Have Won? A Popular Vote Fallacy”

Would Al Gore Have Won? A Popular Vote Fallacy

Batman and Robin Hood: Franchises and Folk Tales

Banner ad for The Lego Batman Movie
(Mild spoilers for The Lego Batman Movie, which btw is freaking brilliant)

Yes, I’m starting to get tired of movie franchises. It’s getting a little old. The sheer bulk of canon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe offers little room for new storytelling: for a while they were weaving a web, spinning new strands in the gaps, but that web is becoming a dense, impenetrable clump, with almost no space for even the best imagination to work. And I’m not sure how another reboot/recast of Batman will add much to the world. I think my friend Chip said it best: “In the future, everyone will play Batman for fifteen minutes.” Do we really need that?

But I don’t hate the very idea of franchises and reboots. I don’t find them inherently repetitive or formulaic (although they sometimes are). I often find them deeply resonant. And I’m finding it useful to reframe them as folktales. Continue reading “Batman and Robin Hood: Franchises and Folk Tales”

Batman and Robin Hood: Franchises and Folk Tales

Bernie Madoff’s 17th Floor, and the Office of Vito Corleone

I’ve been watching the Bernie Madoff documentary on Netflix, Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street. (I suppose I could twit the creators for the unimaginative title, but I’m the one who named my blog Greta Christina’s Blog, so.) And there’s something that keeps jumping out at me, maybe because it’s such a strong visual image in a story full of paper and numbers: the 17th floor.

Madoff had a sleek, fancy office on the 19th floor of a sleek, fancy office building. But he had another office in the same building — the 17th floor. That’s where the machinery of the Ponzi scheme was happening: falsifying documents, cooking the books, flat-out forgery. Very few people saw the 17th floor. But the ones who did all commented on how strikingly different it looked. It wasn’t sleek and modern and classy. It was run-down, badly organized, with old computers and crappy furniture and boxes piled all over the place.

But this was the real office. This is where the real work was done.* The classy offices on the 19th floor created the illusion of brilliant financial minds managing the complex world of finance that we puny peasants can’t even comprehend. The actual work happened on the 17th floor — the work of fraud and deception and theft.

And I started thinking about The Godfather. Continue reading “Bernie Madoff’s 17th Floor, and the Office of Vito Corleone”

Bernie Madoff’s 17th Floor, and the Office of Vito Corleone

The Queer Version Of Get Out?

What would a queer version of Get Out be like? How would you turn the everyday horrors of queer lives into a literal horror show?

When I first saw Get Out, I almost immediately started thinking about what the queer equivalent would be. The women’s equivalent is often seen as Rosemary’s Baby, but Roman Polanski can go straight to hell and he sure as shit doesn’t get to tell our story. There are way better examples: my favorite is probably Season 1 of Jessica Jones, which had me crawling out of my skin, fascinated and repelled, both wanting to turn away and feeling compelled to keep watching. (Yes, that’s a rave review. It’s so good!)

So what would a queer equivalent be? It would probably focus on body horror and bodily control, like Get Out and Jessica Jones and other horror shows about oppression. But what, specifically, would make it queer?

Invisibility and visibility. These keep grabbing my mind, and won’t let go. Continue reading “The Queer Version Of Get Out?

The Queer Version Of Get Out?